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'Grit' carries first-gen grad from Breaux Bridge to Brooklyn Bridge

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Zachary Wells is in an elite group. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette senior accounting major is among just 16 percent of applicants accepted into Columbia Law School’s fall class. The New York City institution is ranked in the nation’s top 5 for law studies.

But the road from Wells’ hometown of Breaux Bridge to the home of the Brooklyn Bridge runs first through the Cajundome.

There, at Spring Commencement on Friday, he’ll simultaneously mark two achievements. At the moment he receives a bachelor’s degree, Wells also will become the first person in his family to graduate from college.

Positivity is among Wells’ most-notable traits, said Chase Edwards, an attorney and assistant professor of law in the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration. Wells took several courses with Edwards, but the two are connected in another way. 

Like Wells, Edwards was the first in his family to go to college. He remembers facing common roadblocks confronted by first-generation students, including self-doubt and an unawareness of resources designed to help him succeed.

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Photo caption: UL Lafayette accounting graduate Zach Wells in a familiar study spot, Moody Hall’s second-floor atrium. (Photo credit: Rachel Keyes / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)